Key Steps for Addressing Mold and Moisture to Maintain Indoor Air Quality

Key Steps for Addressing Mold and Moisture to Maintain Indoor Air Quality

Addressing mold and moisture issues involves identifying water entry points, as mold growth, which affects air quality, requires moisture, nutrients, and suitable temperatures.

Even the cleanest homes and businesses can have stale, musty odors that affect air quality. Key steps for addressing mold and moisture problems start with identifying where water gets in.

Tiny mold spores travel through the air. They need three things to grow: moisture, nutrients and the right temperature. If a building has mold inside, there is moisture coming in from somewhere.

Mold Sources

Recognizing and controlling mold-producing moisture sounds easy, but mold is a challenge, especially in older houses and buildings. Common household problems that bring mold into the structure include:

  • Leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures
  • Roof leaks
  • Flooding
  • Indoor humidity condensation
  • Animal urine
  • Air conditioning leaks
  • Indoor showers

Prevent mold by drying off any water-soaked and damaged areas within 24 to 48 hours.

One thing to note: mold is different from mildew. Mildew is white or gray and grows flat with a powdery surface. Mold is fuzzy, slimy and slightly raised on its growing surface. Mold colors come in black, gray, green, brown, dark red and a few other shades.

Air Ducts

Vents and air ducts guide a building’s heat and air conditioning systems. Dampness and mold affect filters and hoses. Mold in air ducts often looks like black spots near the AC vents. Do not touch them — these spores will spread. 

Mold has an odor that’s hard to ignore, but types of mold smell differently. For example, black mold smells like rotting leaves, and green mold has a musty odor. Trust the nose. If the smell is strange, it’s time to change the vent filters and clean the duct system. 

Preventing Mold in Air Ducts

Here are a few ways to prevent indoor mold:

Ventilate indoor spaces to keep them dry. Dehumidifiers are great for bathrooms. Operate the moisture-drawing ceiling ventilation fan during showers and baths or open a window to clear the steamy fog. Additionally, be sure to:

  • Fix water leaks.
  • Keep indoor humidity below 50 percent.
  • Towel or air-dry damp fixtures, shower doors and floors after bathing. 
  • Change air filters regularly.
  • Insulate air ducts.
  • Clean and dry drip pans.

Cleaning air ducts keeps the air quality fresh. However, various sections of the furnace and air conditioning may not be easily accessible. Because ducts and insulation may need to be removed and replaced, consider hiring a professional HVAC service.

Removing Mold in Air Ducts

Commercial mold-killers are available in stores, but can also be made make with some basic ingredients. Bleach solutions work for non-porous surfaces. Mix one part bleach with 16 parts water. For porous areas, blend one tablespoon of laundry or dishwashing liquid detergent with one-half cup of baking soda and one cup of water.

Turn off the furnace and central air conditioner. Wear long sleeves, safety glasses, and rubber or latex gloves. Start scrubbing! After the mold is gone, clean the HVAC’s air ducts and vents.

Air Quality

Poor air quality can lead to respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. Clean air has only small amounts of chemical pollutants and solid particles. But when the Air Quality Index shows high pollution levels, the risk of affecting the lungs is higher too, especially if spending many hours at a business or home office.

Improving air quality creates a healthier workspace and is a consideration when evaluating the safety and comfort of a business. Improve the air quality by:

  • Opening windows on calm, sunny days.
  • Cleaning dusty window screens annually.
  • Utilizing window, ceiling and attic fans to circulate the air
  • Investing in an air purifier

Breathing fresh air is the essence of life. Keeping a home or business free of mold and moisture not only gives life to the lungs but provides durability, longevity and a more solidly marketable plan for the future.

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